Lowering the temperature: warm sweaters, icy fingers and electric heaters

| Jelle Posthuma

While sun and pleasant temperatures dominate this week's weather report, the lowering of the heating at the UT proves to be an ongoing topic at the coffee table. 'If the temperature goes down two degrees, I will work from home from now on.'

Looking outside, one can see that spring has arrived. 'Yet, knowing the Netherlands, it will probably get colder again soon,' says Karin Kaalverink. She works at the secretariat of Student Affairs Coaching & Counselling in the Vrijhof. 'I am quite shivery. In the past, it even made my muscles and bones sore. I like anything above 21 degrees. My colleague at the service desk, on the other hand, is more of a warm-blooded person. Sometimes, when I go to the toilet, a window is suddenly open when I come back. But we usually manage to find a happy medium.'

Last week, the UT announced that, henceforth, the temperature will be set two degrees lower. The arguments: less dependence on gas from Russia and better for the environment. Kaalverink sympathises, but she is not happy about it. 'I even hear from colleagues that they want to take electric heaters to work. In that case, you gain very little. If the thermostat goes down by two degrees, I'd rather work at home. I'm not going to sit in the office with a coat and gloves. I don't think the UT can demand that as an employer.'

Huge differences and humidity

Not everyone is freezing on campus. Wait, I'll take you to the thermostat in our office. Hanneke Becht, information specialist at LISA and lecturer in academic skills at TNW, lifts her laptop. The webcam shows how the thermostat reads 22 degrees. 'And that while the window is open. I do try to 'minus', but that doesn't seem to make much difference. It is really very warm in Carré, even when it is cold outside. Two degrees down would be just right for me. I also suggested that a while ago.'

According to Becht, there are big differences between the buildings. 'I used to sit in the Horst, at the very end of the building's hot water circulation. It was not until the afternoon that it was warm enough. The air humidity also causes big differences. During lectures, the air is very dry due to ventilation. As a lecturer, I am warm because of the heat of the screen, while my students are sitting in the lecture hall with their coats on. So there are big differences even within a room.'

A colleague, Eline, walks in and joins in the conversation. Her office is on the other side of Carré. 'It's cold there, especially in the morning. It takes a while for the building to warm up. What I thought when I heard the news about the thermostat? I will have to take an extra jacket with me. It also means ice fingers from sitting still and typing. But I do understand the rationale behind the measure.' Becht nods. 'It remains to be seen whether it makes a big difference, but the gesture is nice.'

Good example 

Simon Engelberts, information manager at the ITC faculty, agrees. 'I think it's admirable that the UT is doing this. In my opinion, it's all about raising awareness. If you only call on individuals, little will change. The university has to set a good example. That's how you make people think. I also try to take it into account. The light doesn't always have to be on in the morning, for example, and the same goes for the heating.' In fact, the information manager is not easily chilled. 'Rather too warm, and there is much less you can do about that at the office. If it's too cold, I put on an extra sweater. That's just fine with me too.'

Ventilation

Perhaps it is a male-female issue, says Yvonne Leusink, content manager at LISA. 'That seems to make a difference.' She also prefers a higher temperature. 'Our office in the Vrijhof is always cold. Because of the Covid ventilation requirements, we usually have a window open since the ventilation systems in the Vrijhof are not up to scratch. At times, our documents are blown off the desk. It feels contradictory, because it doesn't exactly help to reduce gas consumption.'

Leusink is not eager for a two-degree temperature drop. 'I've heard colleagues say: I'll be working from home from now on! In our job, we sit behind a desk, so you cool down quicker. Two degrees cooler is just unpleasant.' At the same time, the LISA employee understands the UT's action. 'It is perfectly logical. At home we also lower the temperature by one degree. It may be a little unpleasant at the office. But actually we have no right to complain, when you see what is happening in Ukraine.'